United States Joint Forces Command Warns that Huge U.S. Debt Might Lead to Military Impotence, Default or Revolution → Washingtons Blog
United States Joint Forces Command Warns that Huge U.S. Debt Might Lead to Military Impotence, Default or Revolution - Washingtons Blog

Saturday, September 11, 2010

United States Joint Forces Command Warns that Huge U.S. Debt Might Lead to Military Impotence, Default or Revolution

As I have repeatedly pointed out, the American military and intelligence leaders say that debt is the main national security threat to the U.S.

As I noted in February 2009 and again last December, a number of high-level officials and experts are warning of financial crisis-induced violence ... even in developed countries such as the U.S.

And as I pointed out in February of this year, the U.S. runs the risk of going the way of the Habsburg, British or French empires:

Leading economic historian Niall Ferguson recently wrote in Newsweek:

Call the United States what you like—superpower, hegemon, or empire—but its ability to manage its finances is closely tied to its ability to remain the predominant global military power...

This is how empires decline. It begins with a debt explosion. It ends with an inexorable reduction in the resources available for the Army, Navy, and Air Force...

If the United States doesn't come up soon with a credible plan to restore the federal budget to balance over the next five to 10 years, the danger is very real that a debt crisis could lead to a major weakening of American power.

The precedents are certainly there. Habsburg Spain defaulted on all or part of its debt 14 times between 1557 and 1696 and also succumbed to inflation due to a surfeit of New World silver. Prerevolutionary France was spending 62 percent of royal revenue on debt service by 1788. The Ottoman Empire went the same way: interest payments and amortization rose from 15 percent of the budget in 1860 to 50 percent in 1875. And don't forget the last great English-speaking empire. By the interwar years, interest payments were consuming 44 percent of the British budget, making it intensely difficult to rearm in the face of a new German threat.

Call it the fatal arithmetic of imperial decline. Without radical fiscal reform, it could apply to America next.

And William R. Hawkins (formerly an economics professor at Appalachian State University, the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and Radford University) fills in some details on the fall of the Hapsburg empire:

Spain was the first global Superpower...With Spain as its political base, and gold and silver flowing in from its American colonies, the Hapsburg dynasty became the dominant power in Europe. It controlled rich parts of Italy through Naples and Milan, and Central Europe from the Netherlands through the Holy Roman Empire to Austria. In the 16th century it added the far distant Philippine islands to its empire. The Hapsburgs held off the Ottoman Turks, whose resurgent wave of Islamic conquest in the 16th century swept across the Balkans and nearly captured Vienna.

The Hapsburgs went into decline in the 17th century, and while any such momentous event has many causes, for our purposes the focus will be on the economic collapse of Spain, which not only sapped the empire of strength but served to build up the power of its rivals.

The demands of empire required a strong and growing economy, but Spain did not keep up with the economic expansion that was taking place in other parts of Europe. Madrid’s financial base fell out from under its empire. Spain could continue to consume in the short term because of the flow of precious metals from American mines, but it could not produce the goods it needed at home, which in the long-run proved fatal to its standing as a Great Power and as an advanced society.

Spanish imports were double exports and the precious metals became scarce within weeks of the arrival of the American treasure fleets as the money flowed to Spain's many creditors. What industry there was, along with banking and shipping, was in the hands of foreign owners. As a modern historian, Jaime Vicens Vives, has concluded, “This was one of the fundamental causes of the Spanish economy's profound decline in the seventeenth century, maritime trade had fallen into the hands of foreigners.” This, plus the “opening of the internal market to foreign goods,” produced a “fatal result.” Spain's exports were at the same time under heavy pressure by competitors in third country markets. A nation that cannot control its domestic market will seldom be able to sustain itself in foreign markets, which are inherently less accessible and more unstable.

Yet, Spanish leaders were deluded by a sense of false prosperity. This is testified by the statement of a prominent official, Alfonso Nunez de Castro in 1675: “Let London manufacture those fine fabrics of hers to her heart's content; let Holland her chambrays; Florence her cloth; the Indies their beaver and vicuna; Milan her brocade, Italy and Flanders their linens...so long as our capital can enjoy them; the only thing it proves is that all nations train their journeymen for Madrid, and that Madrid is the queen of Parliaments, for all the world serves her and she serves nobody.” A few years later, the Madrid government was bankrupt. The Spanish nobleman had foolishly elevated consumption, a use for wealth, above production, the creation of wealth.

Historians have traced the flow of Spanish gold and silver across the markets of Europe. Those who “served” Spain by establishing industries to manufacture goods for the Spanish market gained the money. Spain’s rivals, France, Holland (which started a successful revolt in 1568) and England, prospered by their trade surpluses, and reinvested the money to expand their own capabilities. Another modern expert on Hapsburg history, Henry Kamen, has cited contemporary sources who referred to 17th century Spain as “the Indies for the foreigner.” The military empire of the Hapsburgs became the economic colony of other powers, or, to use a current phrase, Spain was the “engine of growth” for the rest of the continent.

Where there were jobs and prosperity, there was also rapid population growth, and rising tax revenue. Rival powers were able to field and finance military forces that could defeat the once superior Spanish forces both on land and at sea. The irony of this is that Spain was ruled by a warrior aristocracy tempered by centuries of constant warfare against Islamic hordes and Christian heretics. These nobles looked down on merchants and manufacturers and disparaged their mundane professions only to find that without a strong domestic business class they could not afford the fleets and armies that guarded the empire they had built.

Today, the American “empire” is also trying to consume more than it produces. The U.S. trade deficit is nearing Spain’s nadir of imports being double exports. Both government spending and private consumption are financed heavily by debt. Washington is printing money, the modern equivalent of digging gold out of the ground, rather than earning the means to pay its bills. And the political and military elites are apparently indifferent to the fate of domestic business and industry. Americans must learn ... from the Spanish experience ... and take corrective action while they still can.

The United States Joint Forces Command - which oversees military operations in the North Atlantic geographic area and supports the other commanders-in-chief in their geographic regions around the world - is now echoing all of these themes.

As World Net Daily reported Thursday:

The Joint Operating Environment 2010 report, or JOE 2010, released March 15 by the United States Joint Forces Command, or USJFCOM, warned that "even the most optimistic economic projections suggest that the U.S. will add $9 trillion to the [national] debt over the next decade, outstripping even the most optimistic predictions for economic growth upon which the federal government relies for increased tax revenue."

The USJFCOM expressed concerns that the burgeoning U.S. national debt represented a threat to U.S. national security.

"Rising debt and deficit financing of government operations will require ever-larger portions of government outlays for interest payments to service the debt," the JOE 2010 cautioned. "Indeed, if current trends continue, the U.S. will be transferring approximately 7 percent of its total economic output abroad simply to service its foreign debt."

To underscore its concern, the USJFCOM cited an alarming litany of historic examples, including the following:

  • Habsburg Spain defaulted on its debt 14 times in 150 years and was staggered by high inflation until its overseas empire collapsed;

  • Bourbon France became so beset by debt due to its many wars and extravagances that by 1788 the contributing social stresses resulted in its overthrow by revolution;

  • Interest ate up 44 percent of the British government budget during the interwar years 1919-1930, inhibiting its ability to rearm against Germany.

"Unless current trends are reversed, the U.S. will face similar challenges, anticipating an ever-growing percentage of the U.S. government budget going to pay interest on the money borrowed to finance our deficit spending," the JOE 2010 concluded.

Of course, debt is not the only threat to empire ... or the only indicator of a nation's economic malaise. In that regard, the crash in Italy in the 1340s and the hyperinflation in Hungary in 1946 are instructive.


  1. Perhaps the JOE might consider the role of empire building in precipitating these debt crises in the first place.

    Oops, better not go there.

  2. Why in hell and heaven are you listening to or heeding anything that military or intelligence leaders are saying?

    Much less reporting about it, in a supportive way?

    Are you batshit crazy, too?

    Sigh. No progressives here.

  3. Oh this is good. So you moderate and screen comments?

    LMAO till the cows come home.

    And I LIKE your blog, for some things.

    Sigh. Lost me as a reader and commenter.

  4. I found this article to be informative and enlightening. I can better understand what is happening now based on the history presented. If those in power don't pay attention to history, it will surely repeat itself .

  5. When you combine the work of Paul Kennedy in "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" with Jude Wanniski's Two Santa Claus Theory as enacted by the Republican Party since 1981 (high government spending, especially on the military coupled with tax cuts and strict opposition to tax increases and social spending when out of power), you get this result. It is the end of Empire, and possibly the end of the United States. Enjoy.

  6. A Second American Revolution should have already started when our puppet leaders said the words bailout or stimulus!

  7. The Joint Chiefs of Staff should convene a Military Justice tribunal to investigate the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission for Treason and conspiracy; via backdoor Totalitarian “Free Trade” (sic) agreements to overthrow our Democratic Constitution which embodies our American Democracy, Independence and Freedom.

    The Military Justice tribunal should also investigate World Banksters and the “American Industry” that was moved to Communist China and their relationship to the current American economic Death Depression and the American Repression of Main Street Capitalism (what made us great) of Free Enterprise, Competitive Market and Fair Trade.

    The Military Justice tribunal should also investigate the 9/11 attacks and bring those who were involved in the attacks to Military Justice for Treason. Bring our troops back home from the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan falsely perpetrated by the 9/11 attacks and the false premise of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

    Use American troops to defend our border and the legal immigration of 1.8 million Mexicans from the Narco/Bankster State of Mexico.

    The total corruption of the Supreme Court, 111th Congress, Government agencies, Main Stream Media and the implementation of Homeland Security, makes it imperative that the Joint Chiefs of Staff take control with the authority of their sworn oath to defend the United States of America and our Constitution and arrest those who are responsible for the Treason.

    Intervention by the Joint Chiefs of Staff with Military Justice is the United States of America last hope, indeed, it is the U.S militaries last hope as well from being taken over by the United Nations.

    Now, I understand why history repeats it’s self, it’s the corruption that repeats itself!

    The French Revolution was a very bloody revolution and many elite aristocrats lost their heads. The coming Great American Revolution of 2011 (when food stamps and extended unemployment benefits run out) will be no exception.

    The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Military Justice is Americans last hope for a peaceful Justice to Treason or a revolution breaks out.

    Seize history Sirs, perform your sworn duty.

  8. Larue

    A few days ago Washington's Blog had a post advocating cutting military spending as a response to deficit concerns.

    I don't read this post as advocating a collapse in social spending or national infrastructural investments.

    The US predicament brings to mind John A. Hobson’s Imperialism: A Study (1905/1972).

    Hobson concluded British imperialism demanded huge outlays of public resources to secure colonial possessions, but benefited only sectional interests within England because such outlays did not result in industrial development within England, nor did they lead to expanded export trade.

    The US would do well to examine England's failures as outlined by Hobson

  9. So now the world has (supposed)debt that cannot be repaid because it amounts to (supposedly)hundreds of thousands of dollars for each living soul. The entity owed this debt is the same entity that creates money from thin air and then charges interest on this air money lent. This entity has acquired all resources, land, armies, food, utilities etc. purchased with this air money. This manager of finances has been party to, if not created a massive recession every 8 to 10 years for almost 200 years that allows them to buy assets for token amount of its previous value. Most of the world is now aware that the NWO/FED is a thief. When will we remove these thieves to imprisonment?

  10. I'm going to be covering this on my radio show more in detail tomorrow.

    Today i went into how the military is smuggling heroine & opium...and how the private federal reserve just gave $300 million to Afghanistan's LARGEST bank - Kabul Bank.

    How is it that the US has so much money, will will give money to the same country we are AT WAR WITH?

    Anyway, I would recommend checking out http://www.freedomizerradio.com

  11. open your minds a little more & try to actually listen to someone like Alex Jones, instead of calling all of his "type" nutt-jobs!

  12. As soon as " World Nut Daily" came up, I blocked this URL.

  13. The interdependence of a globalised market and the peaking of energy supplies, most notably oil, mean than international empirical control is doomed as a national goal, for every nation. No man is an island nor any nation, even those nations that actually are islands. Sustainability is a misnomer as to remain sustained and stable a nation must constantly grow.

    The rise of China as a replacement empire is just as doomed as the current American hegemon because no nation or state can survive on its own without international trade. As the financial concept of infinite growth becomes more obviously false the indebtedness of every individual to the markets will cause a sudden and permanent decline in every industry worldwide and radical social upheaval, there is no way to avoid this.

    All war has been about access to and ownership of base commodities, whether gold or silver or more recently oil and ever-rarer metals, fresh water and arable land. The U.S. military is merely the enforcer's arm of the merchant class and will decline according to market rules which are now being systematically and effectively rewritten to suit a world that has met the finite barrier to eternal expansion.

  14. Not sustainable! Declining markets; shrinking incomes! We're running out of resources! We must all learn to adjust the new reality of a lower lifestyle...blah, blah, blah, blah blah. Bullshit! You're all such damned blind sheeple. The answer is there, right above your heads, starting approximately 60 miles up. It's called space development.

    All the resources this world and hundreds more will ever need are right there for the taking, by any nation or group that has the balls to become the next universal Magellans. God! I can't believe what a wimpy whiny bunch of spineless self-absorbed wastes of protein this nation's "future generations" have become. With outlooks like those expressed in many of these posts. We're not going to have a future!

    If this nation had spent a tenth of what it's wasted on wars and welfare on developing the riches of the Cosmos, our civilization would now be spread across the solar system and living lifestyles one can only dream about. Instead, we've, to paraphrase the Simon & Garfunkle song 'The Boxer', "...squandered our existence for a pocketful of mubles; such are promises."

    If it's not already too late, then show some guts, put a halt to this ludicrous idea of a shrinking pie and go after an ever-increasing pie, "out there." However, if indeed it does turn out to be to late and we are truly doomed, then I can only say that you all deserved it, but damn you for dragging us all down with you!

  15. The history we should have been taught in school. All the meaty important stuff was left out. No wonder most don't see this coming. Of course it could be because they're glued to pop culture all the time as well.


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